December 17, 2002
Redes En Acción's National Steering Committee of leading authorities on issues related to cancer among the country's 35 million Latinos recently gathered to discuss the Redes initiative's past, present and future efforts to promote Latino cancer research, training and awareness.
Special guest and speaker Harold P. Freeman, MD, Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities, summarized the challenge for Redes En Acción and other programs designed for special populations:
"The challenge...is to understand the fundamental causes of health disparities related to cancer and develop effective interventions to reduce these disparities and facilitate them to the patient."
Addressing the 3rd Annual Redes En Acción National Steering Committee Meeting at an opening-night dinner and again at the initial session the following day, Dr. Freeman placed the NCI's efforts to address disparities in context.
"Poverty and cancer are a lethal combination," he said. "It's bad enough to have cancer, but if you also are poor, which means you don't have knowledge, you don't have access, you don't have support systems, it makes it even more complex to have a lethal disease and have social problems that prevent you from obtaining possible solutions."
Another guest speaker, U.S. Congressman Ciro D. Rodriguez, commended Redes En Acción's leadership role in the war against cancer among Latinos and "for continuing to grow and develop...educating yourselves and educating us (Congress).
"I want to congratulate you for your efforts in being right there in the war front," said Representative Rodriguez, who serves as Honorary Chairman of Redes En Acción. "You've done a great job and I want to personally thank you."
During the meeting, Redes En Acción Principal Investigator Amelie G. Ramirez, DrPH, presented a report on the initiative's achievements to date in promoting cancer research, training and awareness among the Latino population. Small-group breakout sessions then focused attention on possible courses of action Redes En Acción should follow in these efforts and in educating national leaders on the initiative's activities, as well as the need for addressing cancer issues of particular importance to Latinos.
Meeting participants also heard panel presentations by Gwendolyn Clark, Deputy Director of the Office of Minority Health, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and Robert Robinson, DrPH, Associate Director for Program Development, Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The presentations included overviews of HRSA and the CDC Office on Smoking and Health activities, as well as potential opportunities for future partnerships with Redes En Acción.
What Is Redes En Acción? Redes En Acción is a major NCI-supported initiative to combat cancer among Latinos through a nationwide network of community-based organizations, research institutions, government health agencies and the public. Core activities include promoting cancer training and research opportunities for Latino students and researchers, generating research projects on key Latino cancer issues, and supporting cancer awareness activities within the Latino community.
The initiative is coordinated by the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and San Antonio, with regional network centers in San Antonio, New York, Miami, Chicago, San Francisco and San Diego.